6. Spider-Man Trilogy (2002, 2004, 2007)
Sam Raimi’s highly popular ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy stars Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker’s love interest. This isn’t a particularly great piece of acting and the role doesn’t demand a lot from her but she owns Mary Jane and brings a certain charm to the role that elevates the fun element of the entire trilogy. She’s incredibly sweet and affectionate and sweeps us off with her charm that makes all 3 movies endlessly watchable.
5. All Good Things (2010)
Not a particularly great movie but Dunst’s performance makes for an immensely satisfying experience. Directed by Andrew Jarecki, this romantic thriller depicts the life of a mysterious, wealthy real estate businessman who is linked to a series of murders including his own wife with whom he had a fiery, tumultuous relationship. Dunst is amazing here and overshadows an equally brilliant Ryan Gosling which really is saying something. She manages to effectively portray the angst, the curiosity, the frustrations of a woman struggling to let herself into her husband who remains quite an enigma.
4. Marie Antoinette (2006)
Sofia Coppola’s gorgeously ambitious historical drama chronicles the life of France’s iconic queen Marie Antoinette from her marriage to Louis XVI to her reign as queen and the eventual downfall of Versailles. The film is a gargantuan mess and whilst there are moments that really stand out, the overall experience is hugely underwhelming which is a shame for a film of such high ambition. Dunst is stunning in the titular role and she nearly transforms herself onscreen as Marie Antoinette although the tonal inconsistencies get in the way to hamper the grace and charm that she tries to bring to her character.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
The entire storyline featuring Kirsten Dunst is a stroke of genius from Charlie Kaufman. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen the film yet (I hope there aren’t many!) but Dunst’s performance here is vital to the story build up and she certainly charms in all those scenes she’s been in, particularly the ones featuring Mark Ruffalo. She gives an endearing performance that seems pretty simple on the surface but is so richly intricate and to attain such simplicity whilst managing to stay within the realms of film’s tone is nothing short of genius.
2. The Virgin Suicides (1999)
Arguably one of the most underrated movies of the 90s, Sofia Coppola’s hauntingly melancholic directorial debut features Dunst in the lead role. She plays an outcast, a rebellious leader of the group of sisters who are isolated by their austere parents. Dunst effortlessly slips into Coppola’s vision, delivering a performance of such pristine beauty and tenderness that there’s a sense of grounded elegance and sensuality underneath her simmering rage. This is easily one her most challenging roles and certainly one of the best movies she’s been in.
1. Melancholia (2011)
Kirsten Dunst couldn’t have asked for a better director to work with than the great Lars Von Trier. While the subjects in his movies remain debatable, the one thing he’s brilliant at is getting his actors to act well. Dunst’s performance as Justine pretty much defines the thematic core and the overall tone of the film. It’s a quintessential Lars Von Trier film performance; generous, nonchalant, eloquent yet fiery inside. While the movie continues to polarize critics, Kirsten’s performance received unanimous praise from critics and she deservedly won the Best Actress award at Cannes that year.
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